TED 2011 Ads Worth Spreading Winners Far Better Than Super Bowl Collection!

The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) community just released its 2011 Ads Worth Spreading contest winners, and the ads are more super than the ones I saw for the Super Bowl! But what did you expect from a brilliant group who’s moniker is “Ideas Worth Spreading”? Here are the ads below, in no particular order.

The ads tend to be longer than the Super Bowl ones, where time is so expensive, though the Chrysler Born of Fire and Volkswagen’s The Force are both here. Hey, the cream does rise to the top no matter where you put it. But you know, if ads were this good, I wouldn’t care how long they went on. They’d be better than most things I’d ever find on television!

Some of these ads are also not widely seen, especially in North America, because they come from the world over and not all of these ad makers have money for American television time, much less Super Bowl. However, as a whole collection, I’d take this over the top Super Bowl ads I’ve seen in any year!

This is part 1 of 3 since there are too many commercials to put into one blog post. The link to Part 2 is at at the end.

Enjoy and be prepared to be wowwed!!!

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Watch Out for Chinese English Mania!

Jay Walker

Jay Walker

Here’s an attitude I’ve seen, heard and which I know goes on a lot more often than I’ve ever heard it. It will sound stereotypical, but you know, it exists enough to be stereotyped, so I’m not going to apologize for it. Just try not to take it personally even though it’s written in second person for effect. Aside from the attitude, everything here applies to me just as much as any other native English speaker (or those to whom English is pretty much a first language now).

You’re going to be going out in the work force. You don’t have the best grades, but so what? That girl or guy from China, India or some other place where English is not the native language, who has the best mark won’t beat you for the job. After all, you’ve got them on the English.

Or maybe that’s only a few of them that have better marks than you and sufficient, if not better English, too. There are plenty of other jobs and similar people you’ve got an advantage on because English is your native tongue.

Well, get ready to suck that up, or at least tell your children to do so!

In the 4.567 minute TED.com talk below, Jay Walker talks about how the world is becoming obsessed with English because it is the language of opportunity.

Specifically, I want to draw attention to where he tells how it is now required by law in China that you start English in grade 3!

Think about that for a few seconds.

Required by law in China.

Have you any idea how many people that involves year in and year out? Then they have it through to high school where 25% of their marks is based on their English in the Gaokao (read “gow cow”). Is 25% of your marks based on English that you’ll work as hard to be as good at it as they will be? Don’t forget how competitive their school systems are, too! 80 million high school students have already taken it. I’ll let you do the math on what portion or multiple that is of the American and Canadian populations, respectively. That’s 80 million in the past few years you’re suddenly now up against which you didn’t see coming. And how many more to follow in just another decade?

And did you hear what they were screaming in learning their English?

I don’t want to let my parents down.
I don’t ever want to let my country down.
Most importantly …
I don’t want to let myself down.
Perfect! I want to speak perfect English!
I want to change my life!

Did you realize how reaffirming those sentences were? Do you say those things to yourself that frequently?

Think about something else for a few seconds.

You know those kids who’s at the top of the class in math and science cause they studied harder than you? Yes, I said studied harder. Not are more gifted or are naturally that way because they were Chinese, Japanese, Asian and such, but because they studied harder. Well, they can do the same to you in English!

Even the potential jobs you now have teaching English as a Second Language abroad, they’ll take those, too! I didn’t recall a Caucasian speaker shouting out those phrases in Jay’s video. In fact, knowing the average public grade reading level in North America to be about grade 9, I would consider betting they’ll be teaching you English to be a wise investment!

What will do you then? Your laurels will have soiled and rotted from having been rested on under your ass so long you won’t even be able to give them away!

Now, you might ask, what will English from grade 3 do for someone? You still had an 8 year head start from birth of hearing and learning and speaking (for fewer but very important developmental years).

Well, I came to Canada at the age of 8, in grade 3, knowing no English. A teacher had the audacity to fail me for fear my English wouldn’t develop quickly enough despite me having the best report card that year! Today, you’d never know I was Asian from how I talk or write. And let’s just say if anybody ever makes a passing comment their English is better than mine probably because English wasn’t my first language, I’ll make sure they know it’s inferior, preferably in front of others. I might be wrong one day, but I know how much the odds are stacked with me given the many test scores, awards and other English related accolades I have to my name.

Worse, there is bad news about all this. I’m nothing special. But many among all those Chinese students now required to take English by law will be many!

I got this way with my English working a little harder at it, more methodically at it, just like most non-native English speakers have to in learning English. For all the racial comments I encountered in my youth, the ones that bothered me most were probably intended as compliments. Some people thought I was naturally gifted in school, especially math and science, because I was Asian. It was as if I didn’t have to work for it. Of course, by that train of thought, I was also geeky because it was “natural” to me.

But for the record, I realized in my adolescence that I wasn’t naturally gifted at anything. I accepted that and took on life with the attitude I was going to have to work for everything. I was going to have to earn everything in my life. And you know what?

I still think that way!

And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

So get ready for the Chinese English mania, with the rest of the world not far behind them!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 5.7


The Happiest Colleague Award

Happy WorkerNo, I didn’t win this award.

But I created it, won an award for suggesting it and will see it used in the Nova Scotia provincial public service! If it gets adopted widely enough, we’re going to be the happiest public service on the planet! 🙂

And better yet, you can try it at your workplace, too!

Everybody antes up a little something to give seasonally to a colleague they deem as having been happiest around them in the past 3 months.

I chose seasonally as the presentation period to celebrate the changing of the seasons that gets little more than a passing notice these days. Also, 3 months is a fair period so as not to do this too often and diminish the value of the award, and not too long between periods to have a general memory of someone’s “recent” behaviour.

For an award, I recommend something that can be attributed to happiness, like a smilie magnet, pin, stress ball, etc. that someone can display if you wish to have it on show. This might get old after a year and they start piling up, though, so if you do this, return the award after a month or two to reuse. A little candy or some happy food would work just as well, or a drink for a toast if you do it as a company event.

The “happy” criteria is about which colleague is generally the happiest when you interact with them.

Knowing this award is constantly at stake will help keep happiness on many people’s minds more often. It won’t always work, of course, and there won’t be times appropriate for it, like if someone is in bereavement. That wouldn’t be right to remind them of this for the sake of it when empathy needs to be shown. However, having a constant reminder to be happy should help people generally feel better and behave better.

Each person gets to give an award because it’s personal to that person. It also makes sure everyone gets a chance to experience the same happiness because everyone has the same award to give. As well, it keeps popular people or people who interact with lots of others from winning as a result of group vote. Those people have to earn it with everyone for each award like everyone else. In fact, it can be argued that they might not win many awards because they might not be around anyone enough to show that much happiness as one other person each colleague might interact with. It’s kind of like having lots of casual friends without any best friends so if best friend awards were given, the “popular” ones might not get one.

I know this idea might be a bit too happy and fluffy for some people, but if you think it might work at your workplace, please give it a try! Whether or not you do, though, here are some other resources for “happiness” that may be of interest to you.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.4

Don’t Worry about People Stealing Your Ideas and Other Great Quotes


“It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap
history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts.”

— William E. Vaughan


“Life is about trying without winning.
That is why humanity developed the instinct for sport.”

— Miroslav Holub, Czech poet and immunologist


“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas.
If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

— Howard Aiken


“One nice thing about telling a clean joke is there’s a good chance no one’s heard it before.”
— Doug Larson


“We’re all disabled some way on the planet: spiritually, mentally or physically.
I got the easy part [physically].”
— Guy put in a wheelchair at 7:45 in the great video below by Yann Arthus-Bertrand,
at a TED conference, that also showcases his other brilliant projects (6 Billion Others and Home)



Any quotes you’d like to share?

Please leave them as a comment. Thank you.


Quantifying Fame

Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky

I’m reading a great book called Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations by Clay Shirky. However, I’m not done yet so this is not a book review. I wanted to share a point he makes within the chapter I’m reading about quantifying fame.

Clay’s definition of fame is essentially when someone can no longer respond to all the attention he/she gets. That is, someone like Oprah could spend all her life responding to fan mail or email and she wouldn’t be able to get it all done, no matter how impersonal and short the reply is, using whatever technology she currently has at her disposal. But that’s it! You don’t need to win 8 gold medals at an Olympics, or be on your favourite music awards show, necessarily. You might just have to whine about how the press is treating Britney Spears so unfairly on YouTube. No, I’m not wasting my time linking it. You go find it if you really want to.

Actually, some bands and singers who appear on these big music awards show, or other shows that would seem to make them famous in the more socially accepted definition of the word, couldn’t even come close to having as many people know about them as people know about someone like that whiner. So who’s big now?

Where Clay comes in with his book is that media like the Internet and all its features, whether blogs or Twitter, comments on photo sites, etc. have drastically changed the ability to become famous. It’s so easy to reach people and contact them now, so fast, that fame can happen faster than ever before, not to mention far more easily, like with Susan Boyle. It can also happen anonymously, like with some blogs that have cult following audience, without all the taboos associated with the word cult. But inevitably, it has to happen and happen far more frequently than ever before, at an increasing rate as we are more “in-touch” with the world through all our technology.

It’s absolutely true! I just never thought about it that way or articulated it that way, though way back in 1995, I saw this coming with how news was starting to include deaths of all kinds of people, some of whom I didn’t think were famous enough to deserve a national mention to bring everybody’s spirits down. One may not know or care about a person, but news of death doesn’t leave one feeling neutral, especially if there’s a reason attached to it like there often was mentioned as a cause of death. Worse is the tragic story, more tragic than the old age cancer that might have been inevitable anyway. And from that, I wrote a free verse poem called Media Obituaries.

Clay Shirky (photo from TED.com)

Clay Shirky (photo from TED.com)

Why I wanted to share Clay’s definition of fame is because I wanted to get you thinking and see if it would reshape your frame of reference with respect to fame. Does that make certain people you know famous, then, that you had not considered famous before?

Are you?

Remember, you achieve fame when you can no longer respond to all your correspondence even if you devoted your entire time to it.

And while I’m here talking about Clay, I’m going to throw in a superb video of a 21 minute talk Clay gave at a TED.com (my favourite learning source) conference in 2005 on Institutions vs Collaboration. It’s about how an institution like government could choose to either enable or be an obstacle to collaboration afforded by new Web 2.0 technology. I work for government, I love this stuff, and I wish I could break down a few walls so we wouldn’t be such an obstacle but rather be an enabler that government should be.

Imagine that! Wish me luck!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.7